What are the five key questions going into the season that need to be asked at Big 12 football media days?
Big 12 Media Days
July 15-16, Arlington, TX
5. Q: Big 12 … when are you going to be a 12-team league again?
Let’s start with the basic fundamental question when it comes to a ten-team league that calls itself the Big 12.
Does it even need to expand?
It’s doing fine overall. The football is competitive and entertaining – more on that later – and the schools are making out just fine, with each one getting about $40 million a year in revenue. SEC and Big Ten teams make more, but for the most part, the ten schools getting their share of the pie isn’t bad.
Would expansion help make the revenue share bigger? Will the idea of TV markets even matter in an ever-increasing cordless world full of niche programming?
Yeah, maybe, because if the Big 12 isn’t proactive, the other Power Five schools are going to figure out how to land the top free agent schools out there – at least, the ones ready to turn pro – and then the Big 12 product doesn’t become as attractive.
Heaven help the Big 12 if Oklahoma and Texas are both struggling at the same time.
Everyone watches Sooner and Longhorn games, and the Big 12 was a must-see event in a fun 2018, but conferences aren’t dumb. There’s a reason the Big Ten went after Rutgers and Maryland, and it wasn’t because they were all that amazing at football. There’s a reason the SEC stole Missouri and Texas A&M.
And there’s a reason the Big 12 needs to play three-dimensional chess and expand – don’t think the other Power Five conferences aren’t thinking about how to steal the Big 12’s top stars.
But the blocking and tackling on this is for another time. For now, let’s just say someone figures out that the Big 12 needs to expand and get bigger, stronger, and more diverse nationally – where does it go?
The simple answer continues to be to grab UCF and USF as a package deal. Massive enrollments, amazing recruiting areas, huge TV markets, and a chance to have a market share in Florida.
Remember, TCU and Utah were Mountain West schools before going to the Big 12 and Pac-12, respectively. Don’t blow off the I-4 corridor schools just because they’re in the American Athletic Conference.
The hiring of Dana Holgorsen as head coach was a slick move by Houston to look more and more like a Big 12 program. The Big 12 might be too Texas-centric, and people in Houston will pay attention to the league no matter what, but like the AAC’s Florida schools, there’s a big base, a big TV market, and a big recruiting area.
Cincinnati and Memphis are interesting from a basketball perspective, to go along with the geographic rivalry tie-in with West Virginia.
Or the Big 12 might look to the west, with Boise State, Fresno State and San Diego State expanding the reach in a different way. However, for time zone purposes and eyeballs, going east is the smarter play.
It continues to be the one conference with the biggest growth potential, and it seems happy to stay as is. For now. All it will take is one hot rumor to float around, and that all changes.